Author : Rituraj Verma
Publisher : Jufic Books / Lead start Publishing
Rating : 3 / 5
Gently wafting through 9 short stories in the book will make you feel like the real potential of these stories has been squandered off in order to be experimental by providing alternate endings on the author website. Inherently, 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' in spirit each story centres on the life of an urban middle class character caught in a set of circumstances beyond his or her control. The stories are about common people and their circumstances are some thing which we all have come across in our daily lives.
'A high like heaven' is about a young couple taking a leisure tip to the hills, only to find themselves entangled in mystery and myths of a wild flower. The husband becomes obsessed with the flower, suitably instigated by the tour guide only to teach a lesson of life at the end of the quest.
'The Practitioner of Austerity', arguably the best of the lot skilfully displays the vagaries of life. It emphasis the importance of living for yourself first and then look out to help others. Only once you remove the obstacles from your own life and achieve a modicum of satisfaction, you can look forward in contributing a semblance of happiness around your loved ones.
'The Intimacy of Space' sets up an interesting 'Big Boss' like premise with multiple characters introduced as participants along with a couple who are in a live-in relationship and are at crossroads how to take it to the next step. The build up to the climax is even but the ending is abrupt making you wonder what the fuss was all about in the first place.
'The Night of the affair' is about a one night stand waiting to be explored and turned into a full blown romance. Sincerely written, it has undertones of erotica and emotional chaos which make the characters full flesh and blood human beings waiting to be heard. The ending may surprise a few people, but it does remain in sync with the central theme of the book.
'The Soul Mate Theorist' start will make you feel like being thrown in a philosophy class with your hands tied down and the main point of contention gets buried under preachy chatter between two friends. Lines here are over-stressed and dialogues heavily over written. Could have done with much better editing and execution. Another case where the excitement of having an alternate ending has taken its toll on the story execution.
'The pursuit of perfection', the last story in the book wraps up the collection explaining why author decided to wrote this collection in the first place. It displays the emotional turmoil of the protagonist in his life and brings a nice round up to the book.
The book tries to make some bones about the heavy duty stuff of love, peace and internal happiness but the tone is mostly surface level and do get preachy at times. There are multiple portions which are trite and forced in. I also could not found even one alternate ending appealing on the author website which in turn completely defeats the purpose for these experimental reads. But if you are looking for some deep voice reparations by reading short stories, give it a chance. You will not be entirely disappointed.
PS: Read the way the stories end in the book, but if you don't agree with the ending, find some new endings or write one of your own.